Problems with a key post-Brexit IT system for customs checks are contributing to Easter traffic chaos in Kent, as thousands of lorries are parked waiting for Channel crossings.
A 23 mile coastal stretch of the M20 has been closed from Junction Eight (Maidstone) to Junction 11 (Westenhanger) towards the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel as part of Operation Brock causing chaos on the surrounding local roads.
The A20 Roundhill tunnel is closed as part of the Dover TAP scheme to prevent heavy goods vehicles from skipping the queue.
Some delays to Channel crossings are due to the suspension of P&O Ferries crossings after the operator laid off nearly 800 seafarers without notice last month, with rival DFDS warning it no longer has the capacity to take blocked P&O customers.
However, the Road Haulage Association said HMRC “continues to have problems” with its new post-Brexit GVMS system for customs declarations, without which lorries cannot transport goods between Britain and Europe. EU.
Without the system, drivers lack the scannable barcodes needed for rapid truck screening at ports, including Dover.
A temporary workaround could be in place until Monday, the RHA said.
An HMRC spokesperson said: “We have contingency processes in place to ensure businesses can continue to move goods and freight while we return to full service.”
A message on the HMRC site reads: ‘We are undertaking thorough investigations into our systems to resolve the issues underlying this outage. We will provide a further update by noon, Monday, April 11. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”
Operation Brock involves using a movable barrier to create a countercurrent system allowing trucks to queue and other vehicles to continue moving in either direction.
However, the system has been overwhelmed, with Kent hit by long queues every day since April 1, when bad weather also disrupted crossings.
The Port of Dover said in a statement it handled 30,000 departing passengers last weekend, a threefold increase in the total over the corresponding weekend in 2021.
He added that he “expects another busy weekend” as he urged guests not to arrive before their booked cruise.
Trevor Bartlett, leader of Dover District Council, said the port would be ‘under great pressure throughout the busy Easter getaway’ as he warned residents to prepare for ‘disruption again this weekend”.
He said he had ‘made it clear’ to Kent Police, Kent County Council and the Kent Resilience Forum – a partnership of local organizations and agencies – that ‘we will not tolerate another weekend traffic jam at Dover”.
The Conservative adviser continued: “For too long local residents and businesses have had to endure disruption and, quite frankly, deserve better.
“We share your concerns about the impact of the traffic jam on local businesses and access to vital health and social care for our most vulnerable residents.
“Many are rightly concerned about how emergency services might respond to a major incident when all access routes into the city are effectively cut off.”
Ashford MP Damian Green has called for changes to be made to Operation Brock.
He told KentOnline: “What we need is to make Brock work. We have established that so far it works, even in times of stress, as the highway is kept open.
“Once you close the motorway it makes it impossible so the Kent Resilience Forum needs to look at what changes need to be made so that Brock can cope with a very unusual situation, where more than half of the transport capacity of goods at Dover has disappeared all at once.
P&O Ferries announced on Wednesday that it was preparing to resume cross-Channel crossings.
A spokesperson said: ‘P&O is delighted to welcome back vital services and we expect two of our vessels to be ready to sail the Dover-Calais route by next week, subject to approval. regulatory, namely both the Pride of Kent and The spirit of Brittany between Dover-Calais.
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This notice was published: 2022-04-07 20:31:58